Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Damn Drugs...

So, I got the remaining blood tests back today, and once again INCONFRIKKINGCLUSIVE!!!

My HGH and IGF-1 are high, but not so high as to indicate Acromegaly. My Cortisol is high, but not so high as to indicate Cushings. I've got most of the symptoms of both, without a clinical explanation, and with no clear diagnostic indicators that can't be caused by a dozen other things

Hell, it could even be one of several subtypes of Multiple Endocrine Neuroplasia, which can present with many symptoms, and no single diagnostic test (other than finding the small tumors that cause it with a PET or MRI) can show it.

We've found a pituitary specialist down in Spokane, and we're going for another series of tests with them as soon as we can schedule it; plus a full endocrine MRI series... which I may have to pay out of pocket for, because the damn blood tests are inconclusive.

My BP is normal right now, has been since I got out of the hospital. My blood sugar is dead normal, in fact my A1C is 5.7%; a lot better than it was back in September (6.2%) when the doc asked me to change up my protein/carb balance.

That's a frikken miracle all by itself. NO-ONE is my weight without being diabetic. Frankly, I think it's the only reason the Doc believes me when I tell him I'm not overeating.

In the mean time, the doc is worried because I've finally started experiencing sleep apnea (since I started on the hormones); which can cause my blood pressure to spike in my sleep; and is killing what little sleep I get.

Basically, everything gets much much worse when you don't get proper sleep (and it throws off hormone levels, and inhibits healing, and causes inflammation etc... etc...) and I haven't had a proper nights sleep in months.

Hell, I've been an insomniac since I was 5 years old. I'm lucky if I can get 4-5 hours a night.

The doc asked me to try a CPAP machine because of the apnea, and I told him "look Doc, I can barely sleep without a damn mask on my head, how am I SUPPOSED TO SLEEP WITH ONE?"

So he suggested I try a drug treatment for insomnia, which should be sufficient to put me into a sleep deep enough to get around the apnea. As of today, I'm on 100mg of Trazodone at bed time.

He gave me a number of options, and together we picked Trazodone, because most of the major side effects of it are either things I'm already experiencing; or they're actually helpful to me.

My previous experience with sleeping pills is, shall we say, not positive; so I have my doubts; but anything is better than what i've been going through.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to Winter in North Idaho

It's midnight on the 23rd of November.

Two weeks ago it was in the high 40s. Two days ago, it snowed for the first time at our altitude this winter, but it melted within a few hours.

Right now, it's 8 degrees out. The high temp today was 12, but it was below 10 most of the day; and the overnight low is expected to be -14 (an all time record low for this date).

There's six inches of blowing snow outside, with another 3-6 inches expected between now and 10am.

There are 30 knot steady state winds out there, with gusts over 40kts. The wind chill is -12. By 4am, the wind chill is expected to be -30. The temp isn't expected to climb above freezing for about five more days.

The national weather service is calling it a blizzard.

Ya think?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey, that's my Dad

Here's a little QT video of my dad from I guess about two years ago, before he got his lap band (he's lost about 80lbs since). I hadn't visited their website in forever, so I didn't know it was there until just now.

video

If you've met me, watching this you'll know why I say he we're a lot alike, only he's 8" shorter.

Since I'm stealing the video, I might as well plug his business.

My dad Chris Byrne III is the general manager, and master stonemason, for Stone Design Marble and Granite. They do stone countertops, stairways, tile, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, monuments, outdoor, household, and architectural stone.

As it happens, the get a lot of very high end specialty stone that others can't get; because one of their primary suppliers is my uncle Patrick, who runs one of the largest decorative stone importing business in the northeast.

If you're in the greater Boston area, from Southern New Hampshire to Rhode Island, you won't find a better source for stone than my family.

Tension...

On Friday, feeling very ill, short of breath, suffering peripheral edema, and in a great deal of pain in my back, neck, hands, feet, and joints (especially my knees); I went to my doctor.

While I was there, I became flushed and short of breath. My blood pressure was taken, and read out at 196/138. The nurse practitioner thought she must be mistaken, so took it three times, with only a slight difference each time.

Apparently, for at least part of the day Friday I was in hypertensive crisis.

Literally two minutes later, my BP was back down below 160/110, so they didnt rush me over to the ER, but obviously this was a big concern.

My BP had been normal the last time we had talked, and I had been taking my BP every week or so since going back on hormone therapy and it had been up a little, but still well within normal range. Given the history, and that both the medications I'm taking and the LHAP class of disorders are known to cause, or increase risk for hypertension; we decided that it was likely induced by the medication, and that we would discontinue it immediately.

A blood pressure as high as I read on Friday carries significant risks. Stroke, heart attack, organ damage, aneurysm, blindness... It's very much a not good thing.

At any rate, I immediately went to the hospital for more tests, by which time my BP had subsided back to normal; where it has been ever since.

I was told to take aspirin, and given a scrip for vasodilators (no joke. Viagra. Apparently its one of the best meds to give for transient hypertension. It was originally designed as a hypertension drug, and the erectile dis-function treatment was just a side effect)) should a problem recur; but the next week is a real danger.

The medications I'm on, especially the hormones, are delivered by deep muscle injection, and are persistent for three weeks. I had just injected them the night before (which is why we're pretty sure the problem started Friday. The concentration in my system probably wasnt high enough til a few hours after the injection), so for the next week the levels in my system are high enough they could induce another hypertensive crisis.

I have to monitor my BP at least three times a day, or whenever I feel any of the possible indicators. I need to restrict my physical activity, and not do anything strenuous, or that would get my BP up. Also no meds that would either dramatically drop, or increase, my BP (like cold medicine).

I'm not to be left alone for more than a few hours, or drive by myself either.

Finally, I need to be especially on the lookout for potential symptoms of heart attack or stroke; and never to be more than a few minutes away from a hospital.

The additional test results from Friday should be back on Tuesday, and I'll go back to see my dock next week (or earlier if the hypertension recurs).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Permission Slips

So, last week/weekend I went to get my new permission slips from the state to exercise my basic rights of self defense using the most effective means necessary, and to move about freely.

Technically, I was somewhat overdue to get my Idaho drivers license; should have done that within 90 days of moving here, but just never got around to it 'til last Friday.

Actually, as far as interactions with the state go, getting an Idaho drivers license is comparatively pleasant. One person in the office (usually two, but her workmate had taken the day after veterans day off... as had I), I think six folks there total while I was there, total time about 70 minutes including taking the written test (which Idaho requires when you're changing states).

Then Saturday, Mel and I went and qualified for our Utah CCWs. We are now duly state certified (though not authorized til the permits show up) to carry concealed handguns in 36 states (Arizona, Utah, and Idaho; plus all their reciprocal states)... Probably going to get Oregon non-resident as well, as they're a bordering state.

At that point our denied states will be California, Hawaii, Nevada (yes, "pro gun" Nevada has recently re-interpreted its own CCW laws to say that other states don't meet their standards for reciprocity), Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland.

Then, we can finally carry concealed while driving across the entire nation, if we start in Oregon, head over to Idaho, then down through Utah to I-40 in AZ (yes, it would be easier if we could go through Nevada)

Obviously, I am only going into this excruciating and ridiculous detail to highlight how absurd this whole situation is.

I climb into my state licensed vehicle, with state required insurance, being sure to carry my state required drivers license, and my four state required concealed weapons/pistol permits; just so I can zig zag across the nation to avoid driving through a state that doesn't recognize my constitutionally protected human right to defend myself with the most effective means available...

And of course, making sure all the while that I keep up with local laws about driving and carrying guns in each state, to avoid committing an accidental felony (of course, by definition there should be no such thin, felonies requiring intent or gross negligence). For example, just a few months ago, my CCW permits would have allowed me to travel through Nevada carrying concealed. If I had read a gun law book published only a year ago, then got pulled over in Clark County.

If I want to use public or private mass transportation (busses, trains, planes), not only am I FULLY denied my right to defend myself with the most effective means available; but I must now have government issued identification to use it.

I'm waiting for my third category of permission slip, my passport renewal. Not sure when that'll be back yet. Then I can have permission from my federal government, and the governments of many nations subject to international treaty, to travel between them.

And of course, I pay for all this with my government monitored salary (from my government monitored and licensed employer), stored in my government monitored (and licensed) bank accounts.

And now, with various taxes and money laundering rules, even if I wanted to live exclusively on cash, I wouldn't be allowed. What with transaction limits, transaction reports, suspicious activity profiling...

And of course, it's all on camera.

And people wonder why nobody says "hey, it's a free country" anymore...

Yes, this one needs to be spread...


Sadly, this is NOT humor.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Little Chip...

So, last night, I chipped a tooth. My bottom left rear molar in particular. Left a nice sharp edge that cut my tongue up.

So the wife snagged me an emergency dental appointment for late this morning. New dentist who I haven't visited yet, but well recommended. He's only been in practice 8 months, but apparently his patients love him.

So I get in there... Nice guy, good handshake, a couple of "interesting" photos around... and as it happens, he's a former 18D who mustanged up, and he's 10 months back from the 'stan.

After his "last" deployment, he and his wife decided that he was going to spend a couple years not getting shot at, and actually yaknow, play with his kids or something (which he hadn't done much of since 2002 or so). So they detail out to Lewis, and he starts pulling for a continuing education billet.

He made a pre-med degree over the years, but the Army wasn't willing to pay for medical shool right then. Instead, they WERE willing to pay for dental school down in Arizona (which he aced. Had the plaques for honors etc... up on the wall. Apparently he did some prestigious dental surgery fellowship).

Unfortunately, soon as he finished his DDS, instead of assigning our boy to some stateside MFAC to use his newly acquired skills in dentistry; they redeploy our new "Captain Painless" back to group for 12 months (who promptly pushed him back in theater), putting his families "new life" on hold.

He papered up the DAY he got back.

Fun guy. We might do some shooting come spring. He wants to play with some of my .300 winmags.

Christ... it's Wednesday already?

How the fuck did that happen.

And it's November 17th... Man... where the hell was I?

Almost December? 2010? Seriously?

When did "20 years ago" become "Christmas, 1990" ?

Me wantssssssessss.... Me wantsssess both of them....


Since I've already got an LnL, and all those 9mm and .45 bullets make my fingers age after loading a thousand or so... $350 plus dies though...

Still cheaper than the other commercial solutions, but that's a lot of components I could've bought instead.

And that cleaner is WAY better than my overspecced jewelry cleaner... though still not one of the higher end commercial units... Probably not worth the $320 when $500 gets you one big enough for a short rifle action.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Successful migration from Echo on Blogger to Disqus on Blogger

As I wrote here: http://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2010/11/in-which-known-unethical-and-idiotic.html

JS-KIT has just upped the price of their already only marginally acceptable service (oh how I miss you Haloscan. Yes, you went down a lot, but otherwise you were simple, and you functioned well, with a good interface, and easy to use management tools) to the ridiculous rate of $120 a year, prompting me to finally get off my butt and find a way to replace them.

At the time JS-KIT forced me to migrate to Echo from Haloscan (a bit over a year after they bought Haloscan if I remember properly) there was no way to successfully export comments back to blogger, or to the other major commenting services, Disqus and Intense Debate. So I ponied up the cash they wanted (I think it was just $10) to move to Echo.

Well, as it happens, a couple months later, wordpress, Disqus, and Intense debate did come up with a comment importing engine for Haloscan; but not for the much more complex formatting and content of Echo comments.

I wasn't particularly happy with Echo, but I'd already paid the money, and my comments had migrated successfully, without any loss of content. Doing an import to one of the other services looked like it wasn't worth it.

In the mean time, Echo jacked up their price; and the other commenting systems (and wordpress the other major blog host) have all come up with ways to migrate comments from echo. Unfortunately, they looked rather complicated, and there was some risk of dataloss (especially in the wordperfect model).

So, I was presented with four options:
  1. Migrate entirely to wordpress: Something I don't want to do, that is potentially somewhat irritating, and which has the potential for data loss. To get both comments, and the blog, synchronized; I would need to separately export them both, then set up a local wordpress install and run a python script designed to merge and resync the data into something wordpress could work with. Then I would need to import that data into my local wordpress install, clean it up, and export it to my live wordpress instance.

  2. Migrate comments to intense debate: This also required an export, and running scripts on XML output; and again, carried a risk of data mangling.
  3. Migrate comments to Disqus: In theory, this required an export, rejiggering of the XML import filters, and a reimport; but it seemed to be significantly simpler and more reliable than the solutions offered by Wordpress and Intense Debate.
  4. Migrate back to blogger comments: This should have been easy, just requiring an upgrade to my blog template, then the removal of the Echo comment widget. More on this later.

All of these options required me to "upgrade" my blog template from classic .css to Bloggers "advanced layout" template; something I have resisted doing for four years. Unfortunately, all of the import and sync functions are dependent on being in "advanced layout" format, so staying with the old template just isn't an option anymore.

Initially I decided to try for option four, it being theoretically the simplest and most reliable.

Theoretically.

I of course had not counted on the incompetence of JS-Kit.

Echo comments are supposed to be continuously synchronized with Blogger comments, so that at any time, you can disable Echo, and bloggers comments will take over, without losing any data.

Theoretically.

Except that most of the time, for most users, it doesn't work. The Echo support forums are completely full of instances of people asking support to resync their comments etc...

On Sunday, I was one of them. Even after disabling, and theoretically forcing a resync, none of my data was put back into blogger.

This meant that under all the import functions I knew were working, I was going to lose my comments.


Late last night/Early this morning however, I decided to do a little more research into Disqus's custom comment import filters, and lo and behold I find they've gone and added a standard plugin to import the XML comment file that Echo exports.

So last night I signed up for, and installed Disqus, and starterd importing.

I am happy to report that it mostly works. I have lost some comments; but I'm pretty sure that's Echos fault, not Disqus, because I grepped the XML file for some strings from comments I  know went missing, and they aint there.

Also, I exported my comments file from Echo three different times, and got three different file sizes...

At any rate, there is a specific sequence you want to do this in to avoid difficulty:

  1. Disable comments in Blogger: First thing, shut off comments in Blogger, so while you're working, things don't get even more out of sync; and put up a post letting your readers know comments are going to be disabled, and that the template is going to change.  Also disable comment moderation and email notification.

  2. Export your comments in XML format from Echo: I recommend you export three times, to three different file names. If they are different sizes, you're going to want to import all three (Disqus won't create dupes)

  3. "Upgrade" your Blogger template to the advanced layout: Use Bloggers upgrade funtion to install a new layout, and then add the elements and widgets you want, INCLUDING the Echo install widget (which you need to install from the Echo dashboard). This will allow you to function with the new comment systems, including Echo as it is theoretically supposed to work, Intense Debate, and Disqus. You may need to wait a few hours, if your comments are actually synchronizing between Echo and Blogger, for them to all sync up. Once the syncing is complete, you can remove the Echo widget.

  4. Sign up for Disqus: While you are waiting for your comments to sync up, sign up for Disqus. It takes two seconds. If your comments are done syncing, or just don't work anyway, or you don't give a damn, you can temporarily reenable comments, and install Disqus on your blog (it's dead easy, with step by step instructions on the site). Configure your settings, making sure you disable new comment notification and moderation temporarily (otherwise as you import, your mailbox will be flooded with notification emails).

  5. Reconcile and Import your comments: Ok, at this point, if your comments are fully synced with blogger, or not synced at all, you're good. Go and clean out any spam comments (there WILL be spam comments. Bloggers comment API has a weaknesses that allows spammers to post spam comments directly into the post archive without actually hitting the form. They show up in the admin interface, even if you never saw them in Haloscan/Echo) and then run a comment import from Blogger into Disqus.

    At this point DO NOT enable blogger comment synchronization, or conflicts and duplicates might be created.

    If your comments are NOT fully synced, you need to decide whether to keep what IS there, or to delete it and just go with the XML exported from Echo. If you keep the blogger comments, you might create dupes, but you might be able to keep content that the XML export missed.

    When the blogger import completes, check and see if any comments are missing. There most likely will be. That's why we have the Echo export XML.

    Clean up the comments in the Blogger import, then run an import on the Echo export XML comments. DO NOT RUN THESE IMPORTS SIMULTANEOUSLY. It will created issues.

    If your multiple export files ended up different sizes or on review have different content, import all of them, one at a time. Disqus will not create dupes of these, as each posts unique identifier will be the same across all the files (it may not be between Blogger comments and Echo comments, though it SHOULD be).

    Even after the import is marked as complete, it isn't really. They've loaded all the data up, but it will be several hours before all comments are linked with their posts. I'm going on 16 hours as I write this, and I'm still only about 3/4 done. I'm guessing someone with 5+ years of comments like me is going to have to wait a full day or more. I'd guess that no matter how much comment data you have, if it's not done in 3 days, you've got all you're going to get.

  6. Clean up: Time to clean up your comments. The Disqus interface is pretty good for that. At this point you can decide to sync comments with blogger, or not. Personally, I say not. If you need to migrate again later, there are tools that can deal with Disqus format, a lot better than bloggers; and of course with Disqus you can force a comment resync at any time. By not syncing now, you don't have to worry about inconsistencies between the two. If you use email notification, now is the time to turn it back on. Then fix your template, and re-enable comments through blogger.
I'm a bit miffed that I still seem to have lost SOME comments; but by far the vast majority of my 5+ years of comments are alive and well, and in a format that is better and easier to use.

The only thing I don't like about Disqus, is that I can't make the comments go to a popup window; at least not as far as I can tell.

Life's too short for bad booze

So, holiday party season is upon us; and as many people do, we're having a party for friends pre-thanksgiving.

Since we don't have any family up here, it'll be our chance to get together with people we care about around thanksgiving; before we go to visit the kids in Canada for visitation (actually probably just Mel, since my passport hasn't come back yet... no I'm not happy about that).

Since we're geeks, and most of our friends are geeks, but are of VASTLY different backgrounds, ages etc... Varying social conventions are in force. Do I bring something, do I not bring something, if I bring something what should it be etc...

What I tell people is this "If don't ask you to bring anything, except some folding chairs, and if you want to drink something other than soft drinks, please bring it with you".

Because, let's face it, booze is expensive. We've got some of our own stock of course, but we drink the good stuff... which is also the expensive stuff. Not only that, but fine spirits tend to be a bit... strongly flavored shall we say, for those who aren't accustomed to them.

So why waste a bottle of 25 year old whisk(e)y on partygoers who think "the good stuff" means jack and coke.

I mean, yeah they're my friends, and if they appreciate good liquor, I'm more than happy to share; but most don't.

Hell, I only have a drink a week or so myself (plus maybe two or three beer a week); so a good bottle of whisk(e)y might last me a couple years. On that basis, an $80-$120 bottle doesn't seem so bad.

At any rate, in the invite emails I sent out to everyone (remember, we're all geeks), I mentioned that we drink the good stuff so don't bring US a bottle (because I don't want to put anyone out expense wide); that it wasn't to everyone's taste, and to bring what they wanted to drink.

Though, the last party we threw, before Halloween; one of the guest who knew my preferences brought a bottle of Redbreast with him. I was impressed with his good taste.

So, I got an email earlier from one of our guests (not the one who brought the Redbreast), saying he wanted to give us a gift of a nice bottle of somethingorother, and what did we like.

Alrighty then, you asked for it:

I'm a fan of aged Irish whiskey (single and blends), single malt Scots whisky, and fine blended Scots whisky.

In particular, I like...

Irish:
  1. Bushmills 16 year old, 21 year old, or 1608
  2. Jamesons 12 year, 18 year old, and gold reserve
  3. Middletons very rare, reserve 25 or 30 year
  4. Tullamore dew single malt, 10 year, or 12 year old
  5. Redbreast 12 or 15 year old
Scots single malt:
  1. Balvenie 15 year old or better
  2. Dalmore 18 year or better
  3. Glenfiddich 18 year or better
  4. The Glenlivet 18 year or better
  5. The Glenmorangie 18 year or better
  6. The Glenrothes vintage
  7. The Lagavulin 21 year old or better
  8. The Laphroaig 18yr or better
  9. The Macallan 18yr old or better or 15yr fine oak or better (25yr Macallan is probably my favorite common bottling)
  10. The Talisker 18yr or better.
For blended, I also like:
  1. The Famous Grouse (especially the 12yr reserve)
  2. Haig and Haig (pinch or dimple)
  3. Johnny Black, Green, Gold, and Blue
Other than Whisk(e)y, I like:
  1. Hendricks gin, and Mel likes Magellan. Bombay Sapphire, Boodles and Aviation are also acceptable. I really dislike Tanqueray
  2. Ketel One, Chopin, and Belvedere vodka (or Grey Goose, Skyy, Absolut 100, or Stoli 100 for mixing)
  3. Mount Gay white, eclipse gold, and extra old dark rum, plus Bacardi 151 for cocktails
  4. Herradura, Patron, Don Julio, and Sauza Hornitos better bottlings of tequila, plus Cabo Wabo (I like Sammy, what can I say. Mostly I prefer Plata, but I won't turn down a good Anejo or Reposado)
  5. Some fine bourbons and American rye whiskeys (Woodford reserve, Knob Creek, Makers Mark, Buffalo Traces higher end bottlings, Bookers, Jim Beams better bottlings, Sazerac)
This is why I generally don't ask anyone to bring liquor; because the liquors I buy usually start at $40 a liter and go up from there. Same thing for Champagne and wine, except you drink those faster.

So, unless someone is a fellow aficionado of fine liquor who I can return the favor to at some point, I usually just ask them to bring a nice micro-brew; where $15 gets you all the quality you might want.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yaknow, I was going to write something about this, but now I don't have to...


And this one:


Remember all those times I've told people "get into a 30 year fixed rate mortgage before 2013, because the games the feds are playing with the money supply are going to be up by then"? Yeah, this is what I was talking about.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In which a known unethical and idiotic company shoots itself in the head

Earlier today, My JS-KIT dashboard for the Echo Comment system popped up with a little banner "Your Echo license expires in 29 days, click here to renew".

So, I clicked to see the renewal details... and then I saw the pricing...

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS A YEAR!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Yeah, not just no but HELL NO.

So, I start investigating how to get rid of Echo comments... not so good... Apparently, nobodies comment service will import the XML file Echo exports to. The only way to migrate to another system without losing comments, is to resync back to blogger comments, then migrate from blogger.

In theory, Echo comments should be automatically synced to blogger comments... except they aren't.

In theory, this is because I'm using a legacy .css template for my blog, rather than the "new" blogger "advanced layout" templates (well... not "new" four years old now).

In theory, "upgrading" my template to a blogger advanced layout template will allow Echo to resync comments with blogger. Once that happens, then I should be able to add Disqus, or Intense Debate... or for that matter just migrate the whole damn blog (which I may do, to wordpress).

In the mean time, my template is hosed up. I've got it edited to the point that I can tolerate looking at it.

Now, as to the title above...

This is what happens when people who aren't too bright about doing business are put in charge. "Hmm... we're not making enough money here, lets make more by making this service that most people don't much like anyway, cost 12 times as much... Yeah, that'll be a great success".

First, they forced us into a paid upgrade. Next they screwed up our import and export capability. Then over the course of a year they give us an unreliable service with no support and dozens of failures. Finally they jack up the price to 12 times what we agreed to originally.

That is about the clearest case of corporate suicide I've ever seen.

Monday, November 08, 2010

"Correcting" the so called "Corrections" system

As of today, it should be clear to everyone in this country, that our system for dealing with criminals (I won't call it a "criminal justice" system since justice has so little to do with it), is utterly broken, beyond any conventional concept of repair.

At this point, again I say, it should be clear we can't just "fix it", we need to start over again, with a different concept.

I have a radical idea.... how about this time we start with an HONEST concept... because right now we are anything but honest about what the real function of the "criminal justice" system is; and that dishonesty is what has made all our efforts to date fail miserably.

Today, although we will never admit this to ourselves publicly, there are three things keeping the "Corrections" system going:
  1. It's a jobs program for law enforcement and "corrections" officers, and administrators
  2. Non-offending people ARE actually safer when offenders are imprisoned (the problem is, what happens when they get out).
  3. The punitive principle.
We like lots of cops (or at least the IDEA of lots of cops), we want to be "safe", and we feel that people who do bad should be PUNISHED.

That's really what it comes down to though, is punishment.

Punishment isn't SUPPOSED to "help" them. Punishment isn't supposed to "rehabilitate" them.

The very term "department of corrections" is a hypocritical misnomer.

Americans (and to a large extent most other cultures), put people in prison to punish them, not to "fix" them.

"Correctional system", "penitentiary"... All high minded hypocritical myths.

The reason "Sheriff Joe" "Americas Toughest Sherrif" is so popular (despite being the worst sort of self aggrandizing, corrupt, civil rights abusing scum) is because he reassures people that he is "punishing the bad guys"; and THAT is honestly what people want.

Eastern State Penitentiary, the first "modern" penitentiary style prison, was deliberately fashioned to resemble monks cells (which is where we got the name for inmate housing units), in the belief that isolation, contemplation, prayer, and penitence (thus the name), would reform criminals into decent men. It was held up as the new "humane" model. In reality it drove prisoners mad and they killed themselves, and each other, in droves.

So long as we refuse to acknowledge the true purpose behind "custodial sentencing" and pretend it has anything to do with the offender coming out better on the other side, we are stuck with what we've got (And rapidly getting worse).

We have to stop pretending that punishment does anything but feed our base emotions.

We have to stop pretending that the negative prospect of prison is sufficient to deter criminals from committing crimes. Most criminals by nature have a poor appreciation for consequences, poor impulse control, and an inability to make valid risk/reward calculations.

When you put a criminal away, all you are doing is warehousing him where he can't commit that crime anymore. That does serve a valid purpose, but it costs a huge amount of money, and doesn't fix the problem.

The so called "criminal justice" system can no longer serve as a jobs program for law enforcement, lawyers, administrators, and corrections personnel; nor can it simply be warehousing of offenders until we release them to commit their next offense.


So, here it is, really simple; my pie in the sky ideal for how to deal with crime and punishment.

Step 1:  drug addiction, possession, use, and sale, must be decriminalized 

This has to happen for ANYTHING to have any hope of working. That would eliminate something like 80% of the offenses in higher criminal courts, and drastically reduce prison populations (at least 40%, most likely something more like 80%).

Step 2: We must not only stop, but revert the proliferation of felonies

Right now, you can be convicted of a felony in some states, for as little as selling the wrong kind of fish at the wrong time. We have established a ridiculous number of offenses as "high crimes" (what felonies are intended to be); without any real justification or social purpose, except to inflate those whom the state can claim as convictions, claim higher punitive penalties from, or incarcerate for longer periods of time.

Accordingly, all crimes currently classified as felonies must be reclassified as misdemeanors unless they meet one or more of the following conditions:
  1. Physical violence sufficient to cause grievous bodily harm, grievous trauma (such as rape and molestation), or substantial risk of loss of life (or more).

  2. Physical or monetary damages equal to or greater than two years income at minimum wage, presuming a 1940 hour work year.

  3. Crimes against basic human rights, including terrorism, tampering with courts, deprivation of rights etc...

  4. Grave harm to the national security of the united states, including espionage and treason.
  5. Criminal negligence, gross indifference, coercion, conspiracy, or fraud sufficient to cause the above.
Step 3: We must completely overhaul our punishment and societal protection model

We must eliminate custodial sentences for non-violent crimes, including felonies, unless those crimes involve:
  1. Gross negligence or indifference leading to violent consequences or the loss of life (anything from drunk driving to greater liability issues)
  2. Coercion, force or fraud causing damages in excess of five years of minimum wage (because this is effectively slavery for the victim)
  3. Special circumstances which are considered "heinous" (more on that later). 
We must restore the element of criminal intent into how crimes are charged and sentenced. If there is no intent, then there can be no intentional crime; only crimes of negligence or indifference, which are generally considered far less severe.

In this regard, any action taken while intoxicated or impaired should be considered qualifying, HOWEVER only if criminal damage or injury to others results.

I believe that people should be allowed to drink, swallow or smoke whatever they want, but if their choices cause impairment which then causes damage or injury to others, they should be punished SEVERELY; and crimes involving impairment should be considered intentional for purposes of determining severity. 

Also for purposes of determining the severity of an offense, coercion or fraud shall be considered equivalent to force (force being defined as violence, or the threat of violence).

All other criminal offenses should be punished by restitution and compensatory and punitive damages to the victim, compensatory and punitive fines to the state, labor for public benefit, public humiliation, and two years of convict status (which can be reduced by order of a judge only after discharge of all obligations).

Further, on discharge of all other obligations, convicts shall be given a term, of "probation" equal to the length of their existing sentence.

The crimes, sentences, and photographs of all those convicted of criminal offenses should be published in all local newspapers, as well as on local and national web sites; and announced on local television.

All convicts should be required to wear a distinctive article (bracelet, necklace, ankle bracelet etc...) which lists their crime and sentence, and which cannot be covered up while in public.

Convicts must wear this article, until such time as their sentence and obligations have been discharged. At any time, the convict should be legally required to disclose their crime and sentence to anyone who asks; unless doing so would cause danger or disruption.

If a convict is able to earn more than a state mandated minimum wage in their private pursuits, they may continue performing them, and pay restitution and fines directly. If not, then they are directed to work for the state, at a competitive wage for such jobs as they perform, while meeting prevailing employment standards for such a position (i.e. if the only job they qualify for is ditch digger, it's the only job they can get; and they still have to compete for it with non-convicts).

If the convict is unable to meet basic standards of work, or is unwilling to work, then they will be reduced to menial forced labor at minimum wage. If they refuse this, they will be incarcerated, as a regular inmate, for the term of their sentence.

Restitution, damages, and fines should of course be directly garnished from the convicts wages; but should be considered pre-tax income deductions for tax purposes. 

All custodial sentences shall have terms of two, five, ten, twenty five years, or life (or death in states that allow it).

Different charged offenses can be combined consecutively to "stack" sentences; but only if those offenses make up separate criminal acts (if one crime involved 8 different chargeable elements with a 2 year sentence for each, then the convict would recieve 8 two year sentences to run concurrently. If he committed the same crime on 8 different occaisons, he could recieve consecutive sentences, for a total of 16 years incarceration)

There is no parole, however sentences can be reduced (more on that later).

Forcible rape, aggravated sexual assault, sexual molestation, aggravated kidnapping, intentional premeditated or depraved homicide (what would be first degree murder in most jurisdictions), felony murder if the homicide is heinous by itself, any intentional negligent or depraved indifference crime resulting in mass death or mass grievous injury (mass being defined as multiple victims who were not individually targeted, or multiple victims who were unknown to the criminal and whom they had no individual an personal motive to harm), any crime involving tampering with a court or an election, any crime involving the intentional deprivation of an individuals basic human and civil rights (as enumerated in the declaration of independence, and the constitution), torture, espionage, treason; or any attempt to commit those crimes, or conspiracy to commit those crimes; shall all be considered "heinous crimes".

Heinous crimes should all carry the maximum length of incarceration, and should be eligible for the death penalty in jurisdictions that allow it.

It is important however, that all state and federal laws about the definitions of these crimes must be clarified and harmonized to meet the highest standard of criminal act, and criminal intent (for example, a potentially but not explicitly sexual element to a simple assault - such as public nudity or forced nudity -, would not make it sexual assault. The intent and act must be sexual in nature, and involve sexual contact or acts, or attempted sexual contact or acts. Forcible rape must be limited to actual acts of physical violence, or coercion by threat of violence, resulting in a sexual act).

Oh and yes, I really do believe that voter fraud and election fraud should be punishable by life in prison. So should criminally preventing someone from voting who has the lawful franchise. Any criminal deprivation of rights should be considered as serious as rape or murder. 

In addition to their custodial sentence, of course, all penalties that apply to non-custodial sentences would also apply. Restitution, damages, fines and fees, as well as all other conditions of convicts.


Sentences can be reduced, by a judge, on review of the case, and circumstances. A review will be automatically initiated at the time the convict discharges their restitution, damages, and fines, should they do so before the term of their incarceration is completed. Criminals convicted of heinous crimes however, would not be eligible for early release except for humanitarian reasons.

While serving a custodial sentence and incarcerated, unless disabled and unable to do so, the convict will be required to perform productive labor for at least 8 hours a day, five days a week; for which they will be paid at minimum, a base sum equal to the cost of their incarceration (for which they will be charged). They will also accumulate sick leave benefit, and paid vacation days, equivalent to a government employee of the same grade as whatever productive labor they perform.

If the convict is disabled and unable to perform any work, they will be given the same disability status as any disabled individual; and will receive the equivalent of all federal and state disability payments and benefits, to offset the cost of their incarceration.

The convict is to be given the opportunity to voluntarily learn useful job skills, and perform at a useful job at market rates, which can earn them money to pay their fines and restitution.

If the convict has useful skills which can be applied to work that can be performed within the terms of their incarceration without undue risk, this is to be allowed. 

The convict is also to be offered the opportunity to work overtime, and earn more money; to be used to pay the cost of their incarceration, their fines and restitution; the balance of which should be the inmates to control as they see fit.

This should not imply the inmate has a right to any job other than basic labor paid at a rate sufficient to cover the cost of their incarceration. Only that the opportunity to seek and perform other employment must be allowed.

If a convict refuses to work, or does not meet minimum standards of work, they are to be restricted to solitary confinement without public exercise, visitation, or communication privileges (excepting legal and spiritual council), and reduced to subsistence ration. Additionally, any work day the convict refuses to work, the cost of their incarceration for that day will be added to their obligations.

Some of this may seem ridiculous (vacation days for convicts?) but it serves an important purpose. The convict should understand, they are performing a job, for pay. They benefit from their own labor, and they have to pay for their own upkeep. If they work harder or more or at a better job, they get ahead; just like everyone else.

This kind of normalization is really the only way to produce people who won't reoffend when they get out. Get them useful job and life skills they can transfer to the outside world; and get them in the habit of meeting standards of behavior; you'll see a huge difference.

Any convict caught committing any felony while incarcerated will be subject to immediate extension of their sentence to life in the case of non-violent felonies, or death in the case of violent felonies. Self defense (against ANY crime or attempted crime against them, not just murder) is considered a valid defense against such charges however.

On their release from custody, convicts will be liable to the same penalties and strictures as those who have received non-custodial sentences.

Any further felony committed by any felony convict, whether incarcerated or not, prior to the discharge of any and all obligations (fines, restitution, service or labor), or in the convicts "probation" period will result in an automatic custodial sentence of at least five years; even for offenses that would not normally carry a custodial penalty.

Any violent felony committed prior to the discharge of any and all obligations shall result in an automatic custodial sentence of life in prison, or death.

On the discharge of their fines and restitution, and completion of any service or labor requirements, and any probation period; all convicts shall have all their civil rights restored, including the right to vote, and the right to keep and bear arms.

Private employers may discriminate against convicts, even after their obligations have been discharged, should they choose to do so. The federal, state, and local governments however may NOT discriminate against convicts whose sentences have been discharged however, except for those convicted of Heinous crimes (who should, in general, not be released anyway) or in the case of employment in law enforcement, criminal justice, corrections, national security, or the military. 

Any repeat offense of the same felony, or any violent felony by a convicted felon who has discharged their sentence, shall cause a convict to be considered an incorrigible offender, and subject to an automatic sentence of 25 years, life, or death at a judges discretion (25 years for any crime that would normally rate a sentence less than 25 years. Life for any crime that would normally rate 25 years. Death for any heinous crime, or crime that would normally rate life). As always, this is subject to review and reduction by a judge after the convict has discharged their obligations (excepting heinous crimes).

I call this the "one chance, don't blow it" rule. I believe it is fully justified, because the nature and scope of felonies is being dramatically reduced; the standards for offense are much higher, and the ability of someone to reintegrate into society without re-offending should be much better under this regime.

That's it. Not exactly simple, but a lot less complicated than our current system... and if anything can work, it ought to be this.

Every argument for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in just 8 minutes

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Patriots Defense need to collectively kill themselves....

Of course, Colt McCoy has done a pretty damn good job of it already.

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?

Four turnovers, at least a dozen good passes dropped.... The Patriots just fell apart on the field. The time of possession alone...

Hell, if we could have got the offense on the field every once in a while, maybe we could have done something (though our frozen fingered receiver corps didn't help in that regard).

I haven't seen the Pats defense perform so badly in years.

On the other hand, I think I just saw the first proof that Colt McCoy is one of the few NCAA quarterbacks who has the ability to translate his skills, experience, and talent, into the entirely different playing environment of the NFL.

From what I saw today, McCoy has all the talent and potential of Marino or Elway. Let's hope he can keep that going, and have the team around him to make it work (and last). Otherwise he'll end up another Jake Plummer, or Matt Leinart.

Friday, November 05, 2010

What the Hell is Wrong With My Generation

From a chat with my best friend, who is almost 29, and without a relationship by choice and habit. It's not that she couldn't get a boyfriend, just that... let her explain.

K: I'm just more uninterested than I am interested, it's not really an issue
Mel: didn't think it was
K: :P
Mel: if I'd watched me be such an idiot I'd be cautious and picky too
K: it doesn't have much to do with your history
Mel: I know
Mel: personal preference is what it is
K: plus people have been pussies lately and I'd rather have a dick lol

And that's the problem with being a 20-something heterosexual female right there...

As an aside, this book was released today:





In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks


Mel

Appropriate for the days news... from Uli to Eddie, to Yngwie

There are three hard rock guitar tunes (I know of) that were inspired by each other, that were originally inspired by the 1886 eruption of Krakatoa; the single largest concussive event ever recorded by man, releasing more energy than all the nuclear explosions the world has ever seen combined.

The first, was Uli Roths "Earthquake" (widely considered the first great "shred"):


The second, inspired by Uli, was Eddie Van Halens incredible debut piece "Eruption":

The final, inspired by both... and by his dickish wanting to outdo both (which in a technical sense he did, but artistically I don't think so) is Yngwie Malmsteens "Krakatau":

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Who needs vcards, when you've got QR codes

How well did I handicap?


Oh... Pretty damn good all things considered...

Look at that map... it's the Urban Archipelago concept made real... 

So, a couple days ago I posted my election predictions, both on base numbers, and on key races.

Lets see how I did shall we?

First, the total numbers
+8 Republican, -0/+4 to the senate
+63 Republican, -0/+16 to the house
I'm looking pretty good here actually. Not brilliant, but not bad.

As of this moment, it's +5 to the Republicans for senate, but could still end up +8. Colorado and Washington's senate races are exactly tied up, and it could be three weeks (not including law suits) before they are resolved. Also it will be at least two weeks before all the write in votes for Alaska are processed, but it looks like Lisa Murkowski will easily retain her seat.

These races are crucial. Murkowski was a republican in the last session and has been one her entire career, but she ran this race as an independent, and has indicated that she MAY choose to caucus with the democrats. If the dems retain the other two seats, I think it's possible. If they lose those seats I think Murkowski will stick with the Republicans. That would put things officially at 49-49-2 (the "independents" Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman). In that circumstance, its entirely possible some democrats may defect and move to the Republican side of the chamber, throwing them control of the senate.

If it ends up 49-49 look for Manchin as a potential conversion either to Republican or to "independent". He's going to want to vote against Reid and Obama most of the time, and with Reid in control, that could get him punished.

On the house side, I was also pretty close; currently standing a +61 to the Republicans, with 11 races left to resolve, 9 of them most likely to go Republican. So I'm almost certainly going to make my +63, and it could go as high as +72 (though +69 or +70 is more likely).

Ok, specific predictions, how did I do?
I predict zero Republican senate seats lost, and the following as gains, or *strong maybes:
  1. Arkansas - Boozman
  2. *California - Fiorina
  3. *Colorado - Buck
  4. *Connecticut - McMahon
  5. Illinois - Kirk
  6. Indiana - Coats
  7. *Nevada - Angle
  8. North Dakota - Hoeven
  9. Penn - Toomey
  10. * Washington - Rossi
  11. West VA - Raese
  12. Wisconsin - Johnson
Damn, missed one.... There were no real Republican losses, unless you count Murkowski, who is currently sitting as a republican, and may continue to do so. I'm counting CO and WA as wins for now, but as you'll note, I had them asterisked for a reason. The three I was pretty sure the Reps wouldn't get, they didn't.

The one thing I was surprised about was Manchin vs. Raese, but frankly I count him more as a push than a loss given theres a very good chance he's going to go "independent" or even switch parties entirely.

Onto the house... again I'll code the Republican pickups as red, the democratic retains as blue, and any dem pickups I'll code green.

First thing, there will probably be two losses of Rep seats:


  1. Delaware AL - Carney
  2. Louisiana 2nd - Richmond
I don't see either as iffy right now; but I'm pretty sure those are the only losses.
Got it in one.
Now, the iffys...


  1. * Alabama 2 - Roby
  2. * Arizona 7 - McClung
  3. * California 47 - Tran
  4. * Colorado 7 - Frazier
  5. * Conn 5 - Caligiuri
  6. * Idaho 1 - Labrador
  7. * Indiana 2 - Walorski
  8. * Kentucky 6 - Barr
  9. * Minnesota 8 - Cravaack
  10. * Missouri 4 - Hartzler
  11. * North Carolina 2 - Ellmers
  12. * North Carolina 7 - Pantano
  13. * Penn 12 - Burns
  14. * Rhode Island 1 - Loughlin
  15. * Virginia 11 - Fimian
  16. * Washington 2 - Koster
The iffys were, iffy. KY6, VA11, and WA2 are still 50/50 tossups (though I expect KY6 and WA2 to go Rep); but overall, the Republicans picked seven of the iffys.
And the likely pickups:

  1. Arizona 1 - Gosar
  2. Arizona 5 - Schweikert
  3. Arizona 8 - Kelly
  4. Arkansas 1 - Crawford
  5. Arkansas 2 - Griffin
  6. California 11 - Harmer
  7. California 20 - Vidak
  8. Colorado 3 - Tipton
  9. Colorado 4 - Gardner
  10. Connecticut 4 - Debicella
  11. Florida 2 - Southerland
  12. Florida 8 - Webster
  13. Florida 22 - West
  14. Florida 24 - Adams
  15. Georgia 2 - Keown
  16. Georgia 8 - Scott
  17. Illinois 11 - Kinzinger
  18. Illinois 14 - Hultgren
  19. Illinois 17 - Schilling
  20. Indiana 8 - Buchson
  21. Indiana 9 - Young
  22. Kansas 3 - Yoder
  23. Louisiana 3 - Landry
  24. Maryland 1 - Harris
  25. Mass 10 - Perry
  26. Michigan 1 - Benishek
  27. Michigan 7 - Walberg
  28. Mississippi 1 - Nunnelee
  29. Mississippi 4 - Palazzo
  30. Nevada 3 - Heck
  31. New Hampshire 1 - Guinta
  32. New Hampshire 2 - Bass
  33. New Jersey 3 - Runyan
  34. New Mexico 1 - Barela
  35. New Mexico 2 - Pearce
  36. New York 19 - Hayworth
  37. New York 20 - Gibson
  38. New York 23 - Doheny
  39. North Carolina 8 - Johnson
  40. North Dakota AL - Berg
  41. Ohio 1 - Chabot
  42. Ohio 6 - Johnson
  43. Ohio 15 - Stivers
  44. Ohio 16 - Renacci
  45. Ohio 18 - Gibbs
  46. Oregon 5 - Bruun
  47. Penn 3 - Kelly
  48. Penn 7 - Meehan
  49. Penn 8 - Fitzpatrick
  50. Penn 10 - Marino
  51. Penn 11 - Barletta
  52. S. Carolina 5 - Mulvaney
  53. S. Dakota AL - Noem
  54. Tenn 4 - DesJarlais
  55. Tenn 6 - Black
  56. Tenn 8 - Fincher
  57. Texas 17 - Flores
  58. Texas 23 - Canseco
  59. Virginia 2 - Rigel
  60. Virginia 5 - Hurt
  61. Virginia 9 - Griffith
  62. Washington 3 - Herrero
  63. W. Virginia 1 - McKinley
  64. Wisconsin 7 - Duffy
  65. Wisconsin 8 - Ribble
If Harmer and Debicalla pull it out (they're 50/50)  will only have missed six out of 65... not bad. In addition, NY state added 13, 24, and 29 as unexpected pickups.

It really looks like a 67 seat minimum, and maybe up to a 72... amazing.

Oh and a couple interesting factoids. There are now only seven states with all democratic House contingents: Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, Vermont, and Maine... Coincidentally, excluding Maine, those are six of the eight smallest states (New Jersey and New Hampshire are the other two, Main is 11th).  There are nine with all Republican house members, and all but New Hampshire are in the 20 largest.

Of course that's geographic area, not population... but look at that map above. 

Eight of the top ten states in population, are now also represented by a HUGE geographic majority, AND either a popular majority or very close to it, AND either a district majority or very close to it (CA and NY, have a few very small geographic but high population districts that skew it) of Republicans.

If you exclude the LA basin (which has more than 20 districts) CA is by far majority Republican, even leaving in San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. If you take out those four metropolitan areas (geographically less than 10% of the state), California is ENTIRELY Republican with the exception of one District (around Santa Cruz). Democrats in California are pretty much limited to 50 miles from the coast, in cities with populations over a million.

In New York state, right about half the land area went red. So did just under half the population as a whole. If it weren't for 2 points (3500 votes), NY23, which itself is about 1/4 the land area of the state, would have gone red.

In Florida, only six of 25 districts are Blue.

In NJ, half the districts went red (well, 6 of 13) more than 3/4 of the land area, and about half the population, went red.

In Ohio, only six of 18 districts stayed blue, and now more than 2/3 the population are represented by Republicans. 

In Michigan, only Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Flint stayed blue.

In Illinois, 11 of 19 districts comprising 80% of the states land area went red. Outside of the immediate Chicago metropolitan area, only 1 district is still Dem.

In Minnesota only 4 out of 8 districts are still blue.

In Oregon, 2/3 the land area is red, though that's only 1 district... I've mentioned before, if it isn't along I5 the pols in Oregon don't know it exists.

This is one that tickles me the most... Washington State, 5 out of 9 districts representing more than 3/4 the land area and almost 1/2 the population, are now Republican


In fact, of the top 20 states in population, only California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland don't now have either a majority, parity, or plurality of  Republican representation.  In the top 30, only Oregon and Connecticut get added to that list.

In all,. 39 states have majority, parity, or plurality Republican representation. Of the remaining 11, states, only CA, NY and MA are individually electorally significant; and together those 11 states don't have sufficient electoral votes to elect a president (just about half actually) and most of them are going to be losing at least one electoral vote each, some will lose two votes.  

That's going to make the upcoming redistricting very interesting... and then, 2012 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What's it like to live with someone more than 5sd from mean intelligence?

Frankly, it's absolutely exhausting.

While I was attending to matters in Canada, Chris got a friend of ours to be his personal assistant for a few days. His work days were going to be nuts, he's still not over the pneumonia and he wanted someone to take care of the house and the dogs while I was gone.

A few days later, the friend who helped him out (no intellectual slouch herself, and an experienced professional) asked me something: "how do you do it?" meaning, how do I handle the energy, the intensity, the intellectual challenge... How do I keep up?

Then this morning I read his latest post, understood 80% of it (despite having no background in the subject matter), and realized that the osmosis is working.

By that, I'm thinking of something another friend said: "I'm sure you learn more about guns through osmosis, just having sex with Chris, than I could ever learn after years working in a gun store."

He was a little off as to the method, but yeah that's about right.

At 16, my IQ tested out as 155, putting me at over 3 standard deviations from the mean of 100 (IQ is by definition scaled to a notional mean of 100). Chris's IQ is somewhere around 180, which is either "a little over 5" or "a little under 6" standard deviations from the mean, depending on which exact set of numbers you're looking at.

Intelligence isn't linear though (nor are IQ tests particularly precise or accurate)... Sometimes the difference in IQ seems more logarithmic than anything else. Sometimes it seems like he's only twice as smart, or five times as smart. Some days, in comparison to him, I feel like the village idiot.

Remember, this is someone with an IQ over 150 saying "some days I feel like the village idiot in comparison".

This can be rather difficult to deal with, especially when you're aren't used to the idea.

On top of that, he thinks in very different ways and handles information very differently. Sometimes we are speaking two different mental languages, and it shows. I really can't comprehend how he processes things, even when he explains it to me. I can't understand at all how FAST he processes everything. I'll barely have finished physically hearing a piece of information never mind beginning to think about it; and Chris has already processed it, understands it, and has either formulated questions, or moved on to the connections and implications.

He just seems to get everything, instantly. It isn't really instant, it's just that his "clock speed" is so much higher than mine I can't see the delay. It's like, my brain is a flash drive... pretty fast, a lot faster than a "normal" persons spinning disk hard drive.. but Chris's brain is like RAM. He's continuously inside my process/decision loop.

And sometimes, it's really frikken irritating...

So how do you handle it when your spouse is so much smarter, more educated, more experienced, and thinks differently (engineer brain) without going absolutely insane?

1. Lose the ego. Seriously. If you thought you were smart before, you might as well get used to feeling like an idiot. I figured this out about 3 months in.

2. Don't compare yourself to them. Not only will it not go well for your now small-as-a-grain-of-sand ego, but it's also the quick route to failure.

3. Keep at least some separate interests, and cultivate your own hobbies. Nobody can know everything, and it turns out everyone is good (or bad) at something. Pick something you won't be tempted to compare scores on. This keeps you from feeling like a complete idiot.

4. Keep your ears (and mind) open. Turns out you won't retain all of it (who can) but you may learn about firearms, politics, history, music, geekery... whatever comes out of their mouths. This will make you smarter as you learn more.

5. Cultivate a base knowledge of everything, especially what your spouse is interested in. This will also make you smarter, and also keep you actively engaged in their lives and their conversations. It is also extremely appreciated, as most people don't make the effort to keep up.

6. Make the effort to keep up. Ask about their day, or the problem they're working on, even if you don't fully understand it. Learn enough about what your spouse does to understand when they vent. This takes time but is worth the effort, as eventually you WILL understand.

7. Ask for clarification when you don't understand. It will come up later.

8. It's entirely possible they have high standards, low tolerances, and a different outlook on the world. Rather than be resentful that your spouse isn't like all the others, learn to take their criticism gracefully and try to do it better. It will make you better at what you do, and will be appreciated.

9. Remember that no matter what, dealing with you spouse will always be intense. That's where the exhaustion comes in. It's not for the faint of heart. Their intelligence is intense. Their conversation is intense and requires your entire brain. Their standards are intense. Their hobbies will be intense. Their passions are intense. That also means other parts of your relationship will be intense, and I'll leave that there.

10. Life with your spouse will be challenging, occasionally discouraging, often humbling, and exhausting. However, you will get as much (or more) out of your marriage than you put in.

Mel

In which I get irritated, and show someone what "Expert" REALLY means

Now, I think all my regular readers know, I am without any reservation, an expert on both mobile telecommunications, and on information security. I have both extensive knowledge, and extensive experience in both fields; and frankly this should be obvious by even a cursory reading of any one of my postings on the subject.

Normally, I just use the verbal shortcut "I do this for a living", and that gets the point across... but sometimes, not so much.

So, on another site, someone asked for useful comparisons between the iPhone, and the Blackberry. As I am intimately familiar with both, I decided to chime in; and included a bit of data about Android in the process.

So, here goes:
"I have all three of the major smartphone platform devices (all others are now obsolete if not orphaned - sorry palm, nokia, sony-ericsson et al), a blackberry being required for work, and having switched from iPhone 3gs to Android (DroidX) a few months ago.

The iPhone (platform) is a computer with a smoothed and simplified interface, no hardware keyboard, and a locked down software base, that happens to make phone calls.

The Blackberry (platform) is an email appliance, with a not particularly smoothed and simplified interface, generally a hardware keyboard, and a locked down software base, that happens to make phone calls.

The Android (platform) is a computer, with a reasonably well smoothed but not particularly simplified interface, which is nearly completely customizable, can have either a hardware or software keyboard, has a wide open software base, and happens to make phone calls.

Of the three, the iPhone is the "best done"; as in the smoothest implementation, the cleanest hardware integration etc... It's also the most expensive by far, and the most limited in options... though the huge application base does in part make up for it.

The Android is slightly less "well done", but is improving constantly, has near infinite options, and the application base is growing rapidly.

The blackberry platform will be dead in three years. It is the most limited in functionality, it has serious security problems, it has serious privacy issues; and the one and ONLY thing it does very well, email, can actually be done just as well if not better by the others. The only thing keeping Blackberry alive right now is the large corporate install base, and they are largely looking at the next tech refresh period and looking to integrate Android and iPhone.

My company, one of the largest and most conservative in the world, and one of the largest blackberry customers (over 100,000 blackberries in our various organizations and divisions) has already certified iOs and its enterprise exchange connector, and already offers iPhones. I just can't have on in my area because AT&T's network is crap here. They also offer support the iPhone vpn connection. They are in the midst of validating and certifying the VPN connection and exchange connector over VPN for Android.

I know that pretty much every other company in our sector is doing the same thing, as are many former clients in healthcare and medical, finance and insurance, and technology.

The only big organizational customer not looking to dump blackberry right now is the fedgov, and that's because they have a "special relationship" with RIM regarding security.

Guess what? They also have that same relationship with Microsoft, and there is a trusted secure version of Windows Phone 7 on the way (as it happens, a good friend of mine is a senior developer in the WinPhone7 devteam. I'll have to pick his brain on that). From what I have heard from inside GD though, the next secure mobile telephone unit from General Dynamics, will be running WinPhone7.

Best bet? RIM gets acquired by someone looking to make a play in enterprise messaging (Cisco? MS?) and becomes a software and backend company, offering groupware sync from cloud to mobile and back to desktop. 
WinPhone 7.... ask me in a year. "
So, pretty straightforward right? Nothing particularly earth shattering, or for that matter insultworthy right?

Well, apparently there was....
@IncorrectUser1 "@AnarchAngel, You're wrong about Blackberry. It's the ONLY device that offers full security for the end user."
@IncorrectUser2 "AnarchAngel wow are you uninformed to say the least. RIM and their Blackberry devices are VERY secure, they are highly encrypted and provide great security for their end users. RIM recently risked getting banned in India and the UAE because of the encryption and security they had on their devices because it wouldn't allow the government to spy on their users. Apple and the iPhone don't have this kind of thing. As for Microsoft, they hand over every way they know of to let the government to spy on the users of their software, with little more than a kind word.

As for the security issues with RIM and the Blackberry, they pale in comparison to the iPhone, it gets jailbroken, aka hacked, within days of releasing the new version. I won't even start with the amount of security issues that Microsoft has, however XP was certified with the "you showed up and turned on the computer" security level by the NSA when it went in for test. Blackberry's Unix got rate higher than that."
Whoa boy.... he don't know who he's talking to, now does he....

This is the part where I get tired of half  "experts", and let my inner asshole free for a minute...
"Norrmally I hate this, because it degenerates into pointless shouting, but f**k it, let's play.
Before you call someone uninformed, because they disagree with your marginally informed opinion, you should know who it is you are dealing with.
I'm chief infrastructure architect for the retail, credit card, and internet banking division (yes, they're all one division) of a major bank; and was a security architect and consultant for years before that.
My work as a consultant, included work in information and communications security for Lockheed Martin mission systems, and General Dynamics.
If you know anything at all about security, especially about security in mobile communications, you will understand the significance of that. 
I was also an intelligence officer in the USAF(R). My last two years in the reserves were spent in communications security. In fact, that's primarily how I got the contracts with Mission Systems and GD to begin with. If you happen to know anyone in that world (which I rather doubt), I could give you contacts to verify.
I am being somewhat vague here, because of security considerations, both from a clearance standpoint, and from a professional responsibilities and ethics standpoint; and of course because of NDAs.
Now, if you want to start arguing security credentials, great: I'm a CISSP, and CCIE (security). I'm a certified systems engineer/expert and Instructor for Checkpoint, Nokia, Netscreen, Sonicwall, RSA (SecureID), McAffee, Symantec, and ISS. I am certified as a security engineer and to give instruction on security in Windows Server (up through 2003. I didn't bother recertifying for 2008), Redhat Enterprise Linux, Solaris, HPUX, and AIX.
I should say, I WAS all of those things. Some of those certs have expired, or were dependent on working for a certified training partner (as my information security consultancies were, for various vendors, as were the consulting practices I worked for). I honestly don't keep track. In IT one collects certifications all over the place, and generally you only maintain them if someone else is paying, or they are critical for the job you are doing.
As a consultant and professional trainer, I have trained thousands of other engineers and architects on the principles of information security, on how to evaluate information security, and on the specifics of implementing security technologies in their environments.
I have two published textbooks (co-author) on information security, as well as dozens of published articles in industry publications.
I co-founded and acted as chief technical officer for two different independent security consultancies.
I was the senior security architect and senior consultant for three other nationally and internationally known consulting practices.
I am one of the co-founders of the Linux advocacy council, and a former chair of its security subcouncil. I was a frequent presenter before the Irish Information Security Forum (IISF), including presenting one of the keynotes at the first general meeting in 2001; and the European Information Security Forum; as well as a presenter or co-presenter on information security topics at SAGE, USENIX, Defcon, and several other industry events, multiple times.
I, as chief architect for one of the partners in a technology alliance, along with security engineers and architects for Hitachi, EMC, Brocade, and Juniper; co developed, and assigned as developers, patents on a number of security technologies relating to secure multiuser SAN environments, SAN switching security, secure distributed SANs and SAN firewalling.
If you have any idea who works in security, we can talk about the people I know, and who knows me...
Oh and just coincidentally, I happen to know the delivery manager for the next generation Sectera mobile Secure Telephone Unit from General Dynamics. As it happens, she's engaged to my best friend. They're supposed to be married in April, but I think they're changing the date again. She works out of the facility on McDowell in Scottsdale. Great lady. Third generation Mexican American, but she talks like a California girl. 
... but frankly, I really don't need to do any more dick waving. If you know anything about information security, or have worked in the field, you probably already know who I am. If not, it would be meaningless to you anyway.
But, let's just get this clear.... I am almost certainly better informed, more knowledgeable, and have more experience in this subject, than you.
Now, having taught someone what "Expert" REALLY means, I get down to destroying their misinformed points.
I know all about Blackberry and RIMs security; both in the commercial and government context.
For one thing, I know that the NSA, DIA, CIA-S&T, and DISA have both been working with RIM and simultaneously trying to get rid of them in government service BECAUSE OF SECURITY CONCERNS, for years. I have worked on several associated projects and contracts.
Why the hell do you think they made Obama stop using the blackberry for presidential business. It's certainly not because it was "too secure" and the NSA wanted him to use something less secure. There is a REASON they made him move to the GD Sectera mobile STU.
Why do you think JSOC just put out the order to switch to Android phones and iPhones, with a newly developed set of security tools; and are migrating their enterprise connectors away from BlackBerry Internet service and Blackberry Enterprise Server, and to Android and iPhone enterprise connectors as soon as they can (last I heard they estimated it would take two years).
Thanks to NDAs, I know a hell of a lot more than I WANT to know about RIM and Blackberry "security".
Now, the difference between Blackberry, and the iPhone and Android systems, is that Blackberry pretends to be secure, and assumes a trusted third party. Neither Apple, nor Android do.
If you are using Apple or Android in an enterprise messaging application, you encrypt all the traffic end to end, with encryption that you manage, using industry standard protocols. At no time in flight is any communication un-encapsulated or decrypted, and at no time does un-encapsulated cleartext pass through any systems controlled by either Apple or Google (though like all encapsulation systems, endpoint analysis and volume analysis are possible for elements of traffic analysis).
All three operating systems have exploits. Most of them are zeroday rooted with every update and revision. The point is, DON'T TRUST THE PLATFORM, and most certainly don't trust any third party.
No system that requires a third party controlled messaging server can be guaranteed to be secure or private.
No system that requires proprietary protocol use, managed and controlled in an unaudited code base by a third party in a remote location, can be guaranteed to be secure or private.
No service that depends on the good auspices of a third party to function (excepting public key services with a trusted certificate authority), or that requires third party management access (in the case of enterprise, onsite, organizational, or nationally controlled blackberry servers for example) is reliable or highly available, in the context of high security.
That is how BES and BIS function, therefore no system depending on BES and BIS can be said to be secure.
The three elements of security are Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. With Blackberry, you can't guarantee any of the three, not because of the base technology, but because their system architecture builds in this weakness explicitly.
There is a REASON why, repressive governments allow Blackberries. It's because RIM build holes in BES, and BIS, to allow those governments to spy on blackberry users within their countries (to varying degrees. RIM has proven very willing to work with governments). They allow the NSA and the FBI to spy on users in the US and Canada, BY FEDERAL LAW in both nations; as well as by consent decree.
They don't disclose this publicly in plain language, but it's not exactly a secret either. It's easy enough to understand when you read what they DO say.
No, Blackberry email services and blackberry messenger are NOT secure; with regard to governments.
They are regarded as secure commercially, only because any company that could prove a breach by RIM would sue them into oblivion; and for commercial purposes that is considered adequate.
Apple and Android have their own security issues; but they are host based, and can be addresses at the host level, rather than an inherent weakness based on infrastructure architecture.
... Or at least no weakness every other device that depends on the TCP/IP stack doesn't also have anyway.

And that folks, is what Expert REALLY means.

Monday, November 01, 2010

High Stakes Handicapping

I'mna keep this relatively simple, since I've done detailed breakdowns on this subject (as to why I think these are the numbers) a couple times over the last few months.

So here's my line on tomorrow (revised at 2200, because I was working off old numbers):

+8 Republican, -0/+4 to the senate

+63 Republican, -0/+16 to the house

I predict zero Republican senate seats lost, and the following as gains, or *strong maybes:

  1. Arkansas - Boozman
  2. *California - Fiorina
  3. *Colorado - Buck
  4. *Connecticut - McMahon
  5. Illinois - Kirk
  6. Indiana - Coats
  7. *Nevada - Angle
  8. North Dakota - Hoeven
  9. Penn - Toomey
  10. * Washington - Rossi
  11. West VA - Raese
  12. Wisconsin - Johnson

I'm not really sure about CA, CT, NV or WA. I'm predicting Republican pickup of West VA, even though polls are a tossup to a slight Dem hold. I don't trust that poll data, and I don't think it's a tossup. I'm leaning strong towards Rossi picking up. I'm leaning strong against Fiorina picking up. Right now, I'm completely split on Angle and McMahon.

The house picture is a lot fuzzier of course, since there's so many close races.

First thing, there will probably be two losses of Rep seats:

  1. Delaware AL - Carney
  2. Louisiana 2nd - Richmond

I don't see either as iffy right now; but I'm pretty sure those are the only losses.

Now, the iffys...

  1. * Alabama 2 - Roby
  2. * Arizona 7 - McLung
  3. * California 47 - Tran
  4. * Colorado 7 - Frazier
  5. * Conn 5 - Caligiuri
  6. * Idaho 1 - Labrador
  7. * Indiana 1 - Walorski
  8. * Kentucky 6 - Barr
  9. * Minnesota 8 - Cravaack
  10. * Missouri 4 - Hartzler
  11. * North Carolina 2 - Ellmers
  12. * North Carolina 7 - Pantano
  13. * Penn 12 - Burns
  14. * Rhode Island 1 - Loughlin
  15. * Virginia 11 - Fimian
  16. * Washington 2 - Koster

And the likely pickups:

  1. Arizona 1 - Gosar
  2. Arizona 5 - Schweikert
  3. Arizona 8 - Kelly
  4. Arkansas 1 - Crawford
  5. Arkansas 2 - Griffin
  6. California 11 - Harmer
  7. California 20 - Vidak
  8. Colorado 3 - Tipton
  9. Colorado 4 - Gardner
  10. Connecticut 4 - Debicella
  11. Florida 2 - Southerland
  12. Florida 8 - Webster
  13. Florida 22 - West
  14. Florida 24 - Adams
  15. Georgia 2 - Keown
  16. Georgia 8 - Scott
  17. Illinois 11 - Kinzinger
  18. Illinois 14 - Hultgren
  19. Illinois 17 - Schilling
  20. Indiana 8 - Buchson
  21. Indiana 9 - Young
  22. Kansas 3 - Yoder
  23. Louisiana 3 - Landry
  24. Maryland 1 - Harris
  25. Mass 10 - Perry
  26. Michigan 1 - Benishek
  27. Michigan 7 - Walberg
  28. Mississippi 1 - Nunnelee
  29. Mississippi 4 - Palazzo
  30. Nevada 3 - Heck
  31. New Hampshire 1 - Guinta
  32. New Hampshire 2 - Bass
  33. New Jersey 3 - Runyan
  34. New Mexico 1 - Barela
  35. New Mexico 2 - Pearce
  36. New York 19 - Hayworth
  37. New York 20 - Gibson
  38. New York 23 - Doheny
  39. North Carolina 8 - Johnson
  40. North Dakota AL - Berg
  41. Ohio 1 - Chabot
  42. Ohio 6 - Johnson
  43. Ohio 15 - Stivers
  44. Ohio 16 - Renacci
  45. Ohio 18 - Gibbs
  46. Oregon 5 - Bruun
  47. Penn 3 - Kelly
  48. Penn 7 - Meehan
  49. Penn 8 - Fitzpatrick
  50. Penn 10 - Marino
  51. Penn 11 - Barletta
  52. S. Carolina 5 - Mulvaney
  53. S. Dakota AL - Noem
  54. Tenn 4 - DesJarlais
  55. Tenn 6 - Black
  56. Tenn 8 - Fincher
  57. Texas 17 - Flores
  58. Texas 23 - Canseco
  59. Virginia 2 - Rigel
  60. Virginia 5 - Hurt
  61. Virginia 9 - Griffith
  62. Washington 3 - Herrero
  63. W. Virginia 1 - McKinley
  64. Wisconsin 7 - Duffy
  65. Wisconsin 8 - Ribble

I'm very iffy on CA 47, CT 5, and RI 1. I'm pretty solid on Labrador taking over Minnicks seat in Idaho (my congressman); as Minnick has been desperately robocalling my house every few hours, AND I got a personal phone call from a staffer. I'm pretty solid on Grijalva losing Arizona 7. The rest... who knows.

UPDATED with new data at 2200